Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbishan) stands in the downtown area of Guilin city, Guangxi Province of China, at the junction of the Li River and the Peach Blossom River. The hill takes the shape of a huge elephant drinking from the river with its trunk, hence its name of Elephant Trunk Hill. There are many scenic spots on the hill, such as Water Moon Cave, Elephant Eye Stone, Hongfeng Temple, etc.
The Elephant Trunk Hill is considered to be the symbol of Guilin. Originally, the hill was known by other names: Li Hill, Yi Hill, or Chenhui. Covering an area of 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometers), the hill towers 180 feet (55 meters) above the Li River and is 350 feet (108 meters) long and 330 feet (100 meters) wide. The hill was formed by limestone deposited on the sea bed 3.6 hundred million years ago.
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Elephant Trunk Hill has several famous spots. One is Water Moon Cave. Between the elephant’s “trunk” and its “body” is a round cave which is like the moon reflecting on the river. Though not a large cave, inside it can be seen over 50 different inscriptions dating from the Song Dynasty. This is the famous scene “Water Moon of Elephant Hill” which is one of the natural wonders of Guilin. Many ancient poets wrote poem to describe the magnificence of “Water Moon of Elephant Hill”.
Hongfeng Temple, also called Yunfeng Temple, is located on the southwest slope of the hill and is another of Guilin’s ancient temples. In more modern times, the area was the site of a major uprising called the Taiping Rebellion from 1851-1864. Artifacts from this civil uprising can be seen on the second floor of the temple, items such as cannonballs, battle standards, and others.
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Elephant’s Eye Stone is another famous spot. Lying right between the “eyes” of the elephant, Elephant Eye Rock is high up on the hill, with holes running through it from left to right. The rock is quite large — about 6.5 feet (2 meters) high and 33 feet (10 metters) wide. The holes are the best position to overlook the beautiful scenery of the Li River. On the top of hill stands a pagoda named Puxian Pagoda which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 CE – 1644 CE) almost 45 feet (13.6 meters) in height. It was built to honor the god Samantabahdra, one of the four most important bodhisattvas. There are many carvings and inscriptions inside and outside of pagoda.
The people of Guilin have many traditions regarding why the hill so resembles an elephant. One of which says that Elephant Trunk Hill is actually the embodiment of the elephant god which was once the steed used by the Emperor of Heaven but was wounded and separated from the Emperor after a battle, subsequently stranded in Guilin. Taken in and healed by a local couple, the elephant decided to remain in Guilin rather than return to Heaven. It is said that Puxian Pagoda was given to the town on behalf of the Emperor to protect Guilin from evil spirits.
Every year, Elephant Trunk Hill attracts many tourists at home and abroad. If you have a plan to visit Guilin, the Elephant Trunk Hill is a must-see attraction.
The first thing to bear in mind is that Guilin has a subtropical monsoon climate, thanks to its position in the south of China. For this reason, there really isn’t a “bad” time to visit, as the weather is generally mild, though rainfall is common most times of the year.
Admission Fee: 75RMB
Open Time: 6:30 – 21:30 (April to November), 7:00 – 21:30 (December to the following March)